JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — First Coast News has uncovered lab reports from public state records in 2018 and 2019. They show 16 new cases of drug violations at BestBet Orange Park. The drugs found are ones the state does not allow in racing greyhounds.
The state says the University of Florida Racing Lab collected urine samples and found a "prohibited substance in the body of the animal" in each case.
In this new batch of drug violations, according to the state, a dog named LK's Hopscotch tested positive for cocaine on February 6th this year, just over three months ago.
Lab tests found other prohibited drugs in racing greyhounds in Orange Park, most often methocarbamol.
Dr. Carlos Aguiar, a veterinarian who specializes in soft tissue surgery, says methocarbamol is a central nervous system muscle relaxant, only to be used by prescription. He says the drug is given when a dog needs to rest from, say, a sprain or some injury. He says, "It has to be out of the system before it's able to run."
Another veterinarian, who chose not to be identified, says, "It raises concern if the dog should be racing. It can mask an underlying soft tissue injury."
Dr. Aguiar says it also concerns him.
Neither vet was treating greyhounds racing in Orange Park.
Director of First Coast No More Homeless Pets, Rick Ducharme, says he's not happy to hear about new drug violations. He wishes racetracks would just stop racing now. He's in favor of letting the dogs "go free" from their racing careers. "Let them go to a loving home where they can be part of a family," Ducharme says.
First Coast News reached out to BestBet President, Jamie Shelton, for his comments. So far he has not responded to questions about the drug violations.
Amendment 13, passed by almost 70% of voters last November in Florida, says greyhound tracks must close by the end of 2020. So far 4 of 11 tracks in Florida have shut down greyhound racing.
Jennifer Newcome, president of the new "Support Working Animals," says the group of kennel and track owners and other advocates are planning to sue the state of Florida to overturn Amendment 13. She says proponents of Amendment 13 worked to "deliberately deceive the voters with a campaign of skewed numbers deliberate deception..."